Credit Cards

How To Get Free Nights At Hotels

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 10 minute read

If you do a lot of traveling, you’ve probably gotten very skilled at finding ways to save money when away from home. You are an expert at saving money on travel and know how to get the best bargains on flights, restaurants, and hotels.

You may already be aware of one travel trick that has almost legendary potential to save money on the free night or nights provided by several luxury hotel rewards credit cards every year. 

Usually, there are no conditions linked to receiving this perk. As long as you maintain an annual balance on your card, you will receive one or more complimentary hotel stays.

In high-end hotels, even a single annual free night can save you hundreds of dollars, and cards that offer numerous free nights generally more than cover their annual fees. For this reason, making a good decision is crucial.

The Top Credit Cards for Free Hotel Nights

If you’re looking to earn free nights at your preferred hotels, these are the finest credit cards to apply for. Each card has some redeeming quality, such as a generous award-night perk regardless of spending or additional travel perks that boost the card’s allure. When it comes to award nights, we believe our top selection offers the best perk available.

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is the best overall.

If you travel frequently and would benefit from complimentary hotel stays, the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card is the perfect option. The free night bonus is straightforward and generous following your account’s anniversary, you get one free night at a property that normally costs between 25,000 and 35,000 Bonvoy points per night. 

In order to receive this perk, you need not make any kind of purchase whatsoever. Those who are interested in applying for the Bonvoy Boundless credit card can take advantage of a generous welcome bonus: If you make enough qualifying purchases, you can get three Free Night Awards, each worth up to 50,000 points. You may find resort fees at some hotels.

In addition:

  • Depending on the property, you can earn up to 17 Bonvoy points for every dollar you spend.
  • The Silver Elite status is automatically granted, and the member receives a 10% points bonus on qualifying Marriott purchases.
  • If you use your card to make transactions totaling $35,000 or more within a calendar year, you will be upgraded to Gold Elite status and eligible for benefits including a 25% points bonus on eligible Marriott purchases.
  • To kick things off, from here on out, you will earn 2x points on all additional qualifying purchases, unlimited.
  • Important Fees $95 annual fee, no fees for international transactions

IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers the best new cardholder bonus.

Right now, the greatest new cardholder offer among hotel credit cards is the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card. Specifically, if you sign up for this card and spend at least $3,000 in the first three months, you will get 140,000 extra points. 

It’s the same as getting more than ten free nights at a mid-range or budget IHG hotel. More than 12 award nights at the cheapest IHG properties can be had with this promotion.

As long as you have your account in good standing, you will receive one free award night per year. You can use this perk at any participating IHG hotel with no minimum purchase necessary.

  • Earn up to 26x IHG points on all qualified purchases at IHG properties, depending on your loyalty status.
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel and dining, as well as gas station expenditures (up to a limit of 2x rewards categories).
  • All other purchases are eligible for 3x points, and there is no limit to how many points you can earn.
  • As long as your account is in good standing, you will automatically be upgraded to the Platinum Elite tier and receive perks including a 50% boost on base points earned.
  • The major costs are the $89 annual fee and the lack of any fees for foreign exchange.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card is the best option for business travelers.

When looking for a corporate credit card with the best value for free hotel stays, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card stands out from the crowd. Similar to the Bonvoy Boundless Card, this one also provides cardholders with one free night each year at certain Marriott properties, with no annual fee or any restrictions.

You’ll get another night free if you can spend $60,000 or more on qualified items within a calendar year. Both free night awards are good for redemption at hotels that require 35,000 or fewer points per night.

Please review the card’s terms and conditions, including the applicable rates and fees, for further information.

In addition:

  • Earn 6 times as many points on purchases that qualify at any property owned or operated by Marriott.
  • You can earn four times as many points on purchases made at participating restaurants anywhere in the world, at gas stations in the United States, directly from wireless telecom providers in the United States, and with shipping companies based in the United States.
  • When it comes to all other categories of qualified purchases, you’ll get two points for every dollar you spend.
  • Gain access to exclusive benefits, including a 25% point bonus on eligible Marriott purchases, and more with a complimentary upgrade to Bonvoy Gold Elite Status.
  • Make $3,000 in purchases in your first three months of Card Membership and you’ll receive 75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points, as part of our Proposal on Arrival program.
  • Annual fees for using the card amount to $125. When making an international payment, you won’t have to worry about any surprise fees. If you need a cash advance, you’ll have to pay either $5 or 3% of the total amount borrowed. 
  • There is a $39 cost for payments that are returned due to insufficient funds. For further information, view the rates and fees section of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card website.

World of Hyatt Credit Card is the best option for moderate spenders.

With as little as $15,000 in annual spending, the World of Hyatt Credit Card will credit you with two free nights. 

A breakdown of the prizes is as follows:

  • After your card’s anniversary, you’ll receive one night’s free lodging, with no purchase necessary.
  • When you spend $15,000 or more on qualifying products or services in a calendar year, you’ll earn another free night’s stay.

Both award nights can be used at intermediately priced Hyatt locations (Tier 1 through Tier 4) in the United States.

In addition:

  • If you’re a cardholder in good standing, Hyatt will automatically upgrade your account to Discoverist status, giving you access to perks including a 10% bonus on base point earnings and no resort fees on reward nights.
  • Both American Airlines and Avis are preferred partners, meaning that you may earn bonus points by booking your trip with them.
  • Get 30,000 bonus points after making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. Additional 2 bonus points will be awarded for every $1 spent on items that normally award 1 bonus point, up to a maximum of $15,000 in the first six months of account setup.
  • You can earn four times as many points for every dollar spent at certain Hyatt properties (up to a maximum of $2,000 per calendar year).
  • Spending at restaurants, on local transit and commuting providers, on fitness and gym subscriptions, and with airlines directly all qualify as “2x Points Categories,” where you can earn a maximum of 2 bonus points for each $1 spent.
  • Earn an unlimited 1 extra point for every $1 spent in all other eligible categories.
  • An annual fee of $95 is charged. There will not be any additional fees for making a foreign exchange.

Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card is the best for upscale travel.

If you’re looking for the most comprehensive set of perks and value-added advantages, go no further than the Marriott Bonvoy BrilliantTM American Express® Card.

That’s to be expected with a credit card with a $450 annual charge (for details, see rates and fees), but it’s well worth it if you make the most of the perks offered by Bonvoy Brilliant.

Earning the honor of a free night is simple and uncomplicated. For every year your Bonvoy account is active, you’ll receive one free night at a qualifying property (terms apply).

All of these bonuses are subject to the following additional conditions:

  • You will be upgraded to Gold Elite Status at all participating Marriott hotels and receive a 25% bonus on base points earned (if applicable).
  • By charging $75,000 to your card in a single anniversary year, you will be upgraded to Platinum Elite Status and eligible to get perks such as a 50% bonus on base point earnings and free use of hotel lounges.
  • Spend at participating restaurants across the world and receive a $300 annual travel credit from Marriott Bonvoy (up to $25 each month).
  • Make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months and you’ll be rewarded with 150,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points. Constraints apply.
  • Earn six times the rewards points at select Marriott properties (6x Rewards Category).
  • You can earn three times as many points in U.S. restaurants and on airfare booked directly with airlines.
  • For starters, you’ll get double the points on all other purchases.
  • Expenses That Matter $450 Annual Fee No Fees for Foreign Transactions (see rates and fees).
  • Guests can also receive a $100 annual Marriott Bonvoy property credit at participating properties and access to airport lounges at more than a thousand locations globally for free once they enroll (terms apply).

Here’s How We Pick the Best Credit Cards to Get Free Hotel Stays

We evaluate the best hotel credit cards for free award nights by taking a number of variables into account. Some are specific to the award night perk itself, while others have broader implications for the cardholder’s experience or the net cost.

Annual Number of Free Nights

A free night’s worth depends on this factor more than any other. The value of the card increases as free nights accrue annually.

There is typically only one annual free-night stay on these cards. However, there are those that provide two and even fewer that provide more, albeit with hefty limitations on accrual and redemption. If given the choice, we’d rather have the more generous cards.

Spending Requirements, If Any, to Receive the Free Night(s)

If you use a credit card that offers free nights, you may not always need to spend a certain amount each year to get them. We choose cards that offer free nights just for being a cardholder, without any minimum expenditure required. If that’s not an option, we like cards where the reward is earned without having to spend a lot.

Conditions for Redemption of Free Night

A credit card that offers a free night’s stay might not be so freeing after all. It’s common practice for card issuers to limit free-night redemptions to moderate- or lower-end hotels. A common method for accomplishing this is to classify all qualifying properties into price tiers and restrict redemptions to the lower tiers alone.

Annual Fee

The annual fees on premium credit cards that offer travel rewards are typically quite high. Prices might be anywhere from a few dollars to well over a thousand dollars.

Earned benefits and potentially significant bonuses, such as free hotel stays each year, can frequently more than makeup for the yearly cost of a credit card. Nonetheless, we think that the absence of an annual fee is preferable to a very low one. Then, we choose our cards accordingly.

Program for Reward

The value of a credit card for travel might vary greatly depending on the quality of its rewards program. Most of the cards here offer high rewards for hotel stays and other types of travel spending, and some even offer supplementary categories for spending that aren’t related to travel, increasing the value of their benefits even further.

Hotel credit cards that offer rewards for spending on things other than hotel stays are preferred if available.

Other Hotel Advantages

An absolutely free night is a wonderful perk, but why stop there? Extra perks are available to frequent guests with several premium hotel rewards credit cards. 

Among these, but certainly not limited to:

  • A free, frequently upgraded, membership in the loyalty program of the co-branded hotel.
  • Credits toward the cost of things like spa treatments and rental cars, typically in the amount of $100 per guest per stay.
  • The annual resetting of hotel booking credits on credit cards.
  • Unique bonuses, such as free breakfast or souvenirs, are included in your stay.
    accommodation at a discounted cost or with preferred room selection at participating hotels

If a card offers a wide range of valuable perks, we’re more likely to recommend it.

Different Travel Advantages

Moreover, many of these cards come with valuable travel-related perks. 

Some of these are:

  • Annual account credits for qualifying travel expenses
  • Guests of the cardholder are welcome to use the cardholder’s complimentary airport lounge access.
  • Discounts or free access to other loyalty programs for travelers
  • Special discounts and privileges with other travel suppliers including hotels and car rental agencies
  • Rewards and promotions from taxi services and similar local transportation companies

Once again, the longer the list of perks, the higher the card’s quality.

What Credit Card is Best for Free Hotel Nights?

When deciding which free-night card is best for you, it’s important to think about how often you travel, how much you spend, and whether or not you can afford to stay at hotels that provide free nights.

Have you ever asked yourself:

  • No matter how attractive the annual free night award or other advantages may be, whether you’re loyal enough to a specific hospitality business to pursue their co-branded card(s) is a different story.
  • How far and broad you’d like to be able to use your free lodging voucher
  • How compatible is each card’s rewards scheme with your typical purchases
    Compare each card’s hotel and travel perks.
  • Whether or not the rewards, including the free night, are worth the annual fee and other costs associated with the card.

Here, there is no such thing as an incorrect response. However, you should take steps to maximize the benefits of your hotel credit card.

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